Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has received the endorsement of one of the most prominent evangelical figures in the United States: Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk Radio.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Dr. Dobson, who produces a radio program heard on 1300 outlets around the world and has advised three presidents on matters pertaining to marriage and the family, joins a number of other conservative leaders in backing the 44-year-old Texas Senator, including Richard Viguerie and Bob Vander Plaats.
In a statement released by the Cruz campaign last week announcing his decision, Dr. Dobson praised the GOP hopeful for his stance on religious liberty and traditional marriage.
"Ted Cruz's record on religious liberty, life, and marriage is second to none in this Republican field," Dr. Dobson said."I have met with the senator on multiple occasions: he is brilliant, articulate, and informed. Shirley [Dobson's wife] and I have been praying for a leader such as this, and we are confident that Ted Cruz has the moral and spiritual foundations to lead our nation with excellence. Speaking as private individuals, we urge conservatives and people of faith to join us in supporting his race for the presidency."
Cruz also issued a statement welcoming Dr. Dobson's endorsement, referring to him as a "mentor" and "voice of hope" to Americans.
"Dr. Dobson has mentored and encouraged three generations of American families," Cruz said. "Dr. Dobson's wisdom and common sense have inspired health and healing in millions of lives. He has rallied people around the world with a vision for happy marriages and beautiful home life. I am deeply grateful for Dr. Dobson's gift to the world - he has been a voice of hope and a guide to many of us, and I am thrilled to have his support."
According to the Washington Post, polls have shown Cruz surging in Iowa primarily thanks to rising support among Evangelicals: On Dec. 7th, as many as 50 conservative and evangelical leaders voted to unite in endorsing the GOP hopeful, including Dobson and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
Additionally, a Monmouth University survey in Iowa showed Cruz winning 30 percent of those voters, compared with 18 percent for Trump and 16 percent for Rubio.
"Ted Cruz made a significant investment in a ground game that looks to pastors to register and mobilize the pews," explained David Lane, an activist who is organizing the January meeting in Iowa and arranged for several GOP contenders to meet previously with pastors. "Neither (fellow GOP hopefuls) Trump nor Carson nor Rubio have done that."
Earlier this month, Cruz also picked up the endorsement of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization dedicated to preserving traditional marriage.
In a statement, NOM president Brian S. Brown said endorsing Cruz was a difficult decision as so many other "tremendous candidates" remain, including Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio. But the group chose Cruz, Brown wrote, because he is a "proven champion" of marriage.
"We are endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz because of the urgent need for a marriage champion to emerge from the crowded field and capture the nomination," Brown wrote. "Unless conservatives come together behind a full-spectrum candidate - pro-marriage, pro-life, strong national defense, etc. - there is a real risk that someone like Donald Trump could win the nomination, which would be disastrous. We need a president with a proven track record of matching strong principles with concrete action, someone who will champion the fight for marriage, not walk away from it."
He added that electing a "pro-marriage" president would mean NOM's supporters would have an excellent chance of reversing the Supreme Court's June decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide.